Castagna Wines is situated near the town of Beechworth, Victoria, with the vineyard planted at an altitude of 500 metres on a base of granitic loam and clay. The climate is reminiscent of the Mediterranean, with hot days and cool nights vital to the successful growing of grapes. Owner Julian Castagna worked for many years in the film industry, before deciding in the 1990s to establish a vineyard. Through his association with Rick Kinzbrunner, winemaker at the revered Giaconda winery in Beechworth, Julian was helped to locate a property nearby, on which he wanted to plant some vines to be used mainly as a hobby project. Not long after planting, they noticed that the vines had been infested by the African black beetle. One remedy involved spraying noxious chemicals, which made Julian want to look for other, healthier alternatives. Through contact with winemaker James Milton in New Zealand, Julian learnt about biodynamics, and his beetle problem was solved.
Julian’s belief that wine of character is made in the vineyard rather than the winery is one of the main reasons he chose biodynamics. The wines feature minimal sulphur but still seem able to develop nicely in bottle. The Genesis Syrah has a touch of viognier and has been lauded by many for its changing character from year to year and its fine aromatics and supple flavours. Their nebbiolo grapes mainly went into blends for the Adam’s Rib label- made by Julian’s son Adam- though the 2015 Barbarossa Nebbiolo has quickly gained many supporters, even with its high price tag. Adam’s Rib was started in order to make affordable and easy-drinking wines- simply labelled ‘The Red’ and ‘The White’- using different grapes and blends each vintage.
Castagna’s wines can be difficult to get as they sell out quickly, but some of their delights can be found here.